What is a design?

What is a registered design?
A design refers to the features of a shape, configuration, pattern or ornament applied to an article by any industrial process. If you register a design, you will be protecting the external appearance of the article. Registered Designs are used primarily to protect designs for industrial use.

The benefits of registering a design
By registering a design, you obtain a right to ownership and the right to prevent others from using the design without your permission. You can exploit your design in many ways. You may use it to better protect your market share by barring copying by others, license it to third parties for commercial returns or sell the design for a sum of money.

To qualify for registration, a design must, in general, satisfy two key criteria:

1. The Design must be new
The registered design must not have been registered in Singapore or elsewhere, or published anywhere in the world before the date of application of the first filing. Thus the owner of a design should be careful not to disclose the design to anyone until a design application is filed.

Generally, a design is not new if it:

  • has been registered;
  • has been published anywhere in the world, in respect of the same or any other article; or
  • differs only in immaterial details, or features, from other designs that are commonly found in trade.

2. The Design must be industrially applied onto an article
The registered design has to be applied to an article by an industrial process. This means that more than 50 copies of the article must have been or are intended to be produced for sale or hire.

Designs that cannot be registered
Under the Registered Designs Act and Rules, the following cannot be registered:

  • Designs that are contrary to public order or morality.
  • Computer programs or layout designs of integrated circuits. has been published anywhere in the world, in respect of the same or any other article; or
  • Designs applied to certain articles; such as wall plaques, medals and medallions, and printed matter primarily of a literary or artistic character (e.g. calendars, certificates, coupons, greeting cards, leaflets, maps, playing cards, postcards, stamps, and similar articles). differs only in immaterial details, or features, from other designs that are commonly found in trade.
  • Methods or principles of construction.
  • Designs that are solely functional.
  • Designs that are dependent upon the appearance of another article, of which it is intended by the designer to form an integral part of another article, so that either article may perform its function.

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